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Casio Exilim EX-Z150

The thinnest camera with 4X wide-angle zoom
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

It's becoming difficult to up the ante in today's crowded market for ultra-compact consumer cameras. Just a few months ago Casio introduced the Exilim EX-Z100 and Z200 to the US market (in January of 2008) -- a pair of ultra-compact 10-megapixel cameras that come in a variety of colors, a variety of new features and a new 4X optical zoom. The sole difference between the two of them was the Z200's active CCD anti shake. Given that Casio already offers the 8.1 megapixel Z9 and Z80, where could yet another 8-megapixel Exilim fit in? Read on.

What the new Z150 offers

These days, new models even from traditionally innovative manufacturers like Casio generally offer incremental improvements or they offer new combinations of features at ever more attractive prices. It must have been difficult for Casio to offer a new camera, and especially one that does not break new ground with megapixels. The complexity of the task is evident in Casio came up what it calls "the world's slimmest digital camera with a wide-angle 4X optical zoom." Given that there aren't that many 4X optical zooms (most are 3X or 5X) and that most zooms aren't wide angle (i.e. start at 35mm-equivalent focal length of less than 36mm), that's not saying all that much.

That doesn't mean this new Casio is not a remarkable achievement or that there isn't a place for it in Casio's lineup. In essence, you get the Z100/200's very useful 4X zoom in a camera that has a larger LCD display (as of its introduction the largest in any Casio cameras) and includes the Z200's CCD-shift anti-shake function, and you get it all for US$199 list, quite a bit less than the 10 megapixel Z100/Z200 models.

As far as the display goes, it measures a full three inches diagonally, versus the already generous 2.7 inches of the Z100/200. Resolution stays the same at about 230,000 pixels (959 x 240 pixels). A larger screen is always better, enabling you to better see whether a picture is sharp or not, and making reviewing pictures or slide shows on the camera much more pleasant. The larger display alone would be a good reason to buy this camera.

Casio's choice of a 28-112mm zoom is also a good one. Your standard 3X zoom has a 36-108mm focal length. This means that the Z150's zoom won't get you closer, but it adds wide angle capability at the low end. This means you get more into a picture indoors or when you're close, and you can still do it without any noticeable distortion. Outdoors, you can get full panoramas. In short, the 4X zoom of this camera adds flexibility.

The EX-Z150 has optical, or "active," anti-blur technology. A CCD-Shift Stablizer compensates for camera movements and can thus reduce blur. We've in the past tested otherwise identical cameras where one had optical image stabilization and the other did not. Zoom and low-light pictures were markedly better with optical stabilization. Having it in the Z150 is a definite plus.

As far as the thinness claim goes, the Z150 is indeed a tenth of an inch thinner than the Z100/Z200. Its thickness varies between 0.74 and 0.79 inches. That's thicker than some of Casio's ultra-thins that measure barely more than half an inch in thickness.

How did Casio do it?0

How can Casio offer so much for so little, even compared to some of its own lineup? That's because you get some of the good stuff, but not all of it. Face detection is there, as is voice recording and the popular YouTube mode that optimizes video for uploading to YouTube.

However, according to the specs included in the press release, there is no high-res wide-format 848 x 480 pixel video mode and you must do with standard 640 x 480 vidclips. Missing seems to be MPEG-4 H.264 video format/compression that reduces MPEG-4 file sizes more without any perceptible image degradation to the eye and means you can record longer videos while still essentially getting MPEG-4 video quality. Macro photographers will notice they can get no closer than six inches to a subject. No big deal, but the Z100/Z200 let you shoot macro at four inches. And those who delight in bunches of scene modes will note that the new model "only" has 22 scene modes, and not the almost 40 available in the Z100/200.


If you're not spoiled enough yet to automatically pass on a new camera with a mere 8-megapixel camera, the new Z150 from Casio has a lot to offer. Compared to Casio's higher end models you give up a few features, like more scene modes and high-res wide-format video, but the Z150 is a very elegant camera that comes in five colors (silver, black, red, pink and green), has that cool 4X wide angle zoom, a large and terrific 3-inch LCD display, CCD-shift anti-shake, and it comes with a list price of just US$199, a total bargain.

We like:

  • 28-112mm 4X optical zoom allows wide angle photography
  • Very small and light
  • Large high-res 3-inch display
  • CCD-Shift image stabilization
Not so much:
  • Fewer scene modes
  • No 848 x 480 movies
Specifications CASIO EX-Z150
Status Added 07/2008
Camera Type Ultra-compact
Size 3.81 x 2.26 x 0.74/0.79
Weight (oz.) 4.4 w/o battery and SD Card
Effective Pixels 8.1 mp
CCD Type 1/2.5
Max pixel size 3264 x 2448
File formats Stills: JPEG (Exif 2.2); movies: MOV format, IMA-ADPCM (mono) audio: WAV (mono)
Compression fine, normal, economy
Movie recording (best) til full, with audio @ 30 fps
Max movie pixels 640 x 480
Voice recording Yes + 30 second audio snaps
Lens 7 lenses, 6 groups
Focal length 4.65-18.6mm (28-112mm)
Zoom (optical/digital) 4X/4X
Aperture f/2.6 - f/5.9
Focus modes Auto, manual, macro, pan, infinity
Focus minimum/macro 6 inches, 1.7 feet
Shutter speed 1/2 to 1/2000 sec (up to 4 seconds with Night Scene)
Sensitivity (ISO) auto; 64-1600
Autofocus system contrast detection type: spot/multi/tracking
Metering multi-pattern, center-weight and spot by imaging element
Anti-shake CCD-shift anti-shake
White-balance modes auto, daylight, overcast, shade, day white FL, daylight FL, tungsten, manual
Shooting modes auto, 22 scenes
Exposure compensation +/-2EV in 1/3 steps
Viewfinder Type none
LCD size 3.0" LCD (230k) (960x240)
LCD type "super clear LCD"
LCD construction fixed
Flash type built-in
Flash range up to 10.5 feet
Flash modes 5 (auto, on, off, red-eye reduction)
Camera internal memory 18MB
Storage Medium SD/MMC
I/O USB via cable
Battery type Li-Ion
CIPA Battery life (LCD/off) 280 images
"Estimated Price" US$279.99/299.99
Contact www.casio.com

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